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March 2015
Vol 5, Issue 3


News,Tips and Happenings

Dear Shipmate:

Spring is so close I can smell it! But you would never know by the three snowfalls we've had in the last week or so! The local weatherman says this is the 2nd snowiest season on record. We've received over 10 feet of the fluffy stuff. Also, February was officially the coldest month ever recorded, at something like 15 degrees below normal.

There are still some spots left in our classes for this summer, but every day or two another spot gets taken. 

On a more somber note, I understand that noted author  and historian  Jean Boudriot died Sunday, February 22, 2015 at the age of 94. He is most noted among modelers for his 4-volume book "The 74-gun Ship" and "John Paul Jones and the Bonhomme Richard." He also authored dozens of other books and papers about ships, weapons and the French Navy.
In This Issue
Nautical Terms
Model of the month
Something Fun
Tip of the Month
final message
Quick Links
Nautical terms and origins

Cabotage - Coastwise trade, coastal navigation, or pilotage. The term has special significance, relating to various countries' laws relating to domestic coastwise trade. It comes from French and Spanish; the former, caboter, coast-sailing.

Doldrums - The belt around the world near the equator where much calm weather is encountered. One scholar conjectures that this was a slang word, made up of dumps and tantrums.

Raise - To come within visible distance of another vessel or object, such as a buoy or a point ashore. The word appears to have come from Middle English reisen, in turn from the old Norse, and meaning to come in sight of.

Stern Sheets - A platform or seat in the stern of a small boat. The term sheet in this sense comes from the old English skeat, a floorboard or platform in a boat.

Information is from the book "Origins of Sea Terms" by John G. Rogers
copyright 1985 Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc. and available from BlueJacket. 
Model of the Month - Young America Clipper

This model kit was abandoned in a basement for decades, but the owner finally wanted us to build it for him.  It is an old Model Shipways kit of the "Young America" clipper in 1/16" = 1' scale.  You can see from the box that this model is from when MS was in Fort Lee, NJ and that it was not well preserved.

However, we were up to the task and our own Charlie Cook (that voice on the end of our hotline) tackled the job. Remember, back then a kit had a shaped hull, some blocks of wood, stripwood, and dowels and fittings.  No photo etched brass, very little prefabrication. Seeing the finished product, it was just too pretty not to share with everyone. So enjoy the eye-candy.

Something fun
Some random thoughts to ponder...

1 - Wouldn't it be great if we could put ourselves in the dryer for ten minutes; come out wrinkle-free and three sizes smaller!

2 - Last year I joined a support group for procrastinators, but we haven't met yet.

3 - Old age is coming at a really bad time.

4 - When I was a child I thought "nap time" was a it just feels like a treat.

5 - The biggest lie I tell myself is... "I don't need to write that down, I'll remember it."

6 - I don't have grey hair.  I have "wisdom highlights." I'm just very wise.

7 - If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would've put them on my knees.

8 - The kids text "plz" which is shorter than "please." I text back "no" which is shorter than "yes."

9 - I'm going to retire and live off my savings.  Not sure what I'll do that second week.

10 - Even duct tape can't fix stupid... but it can muffle the sound.

11 - Of course I talk to myself, sometimes I need expert advice, and I find I have a smarter audience when I do that.

12 - At my age, "getting lucky" means walking into a room and remembering what I came in there for.

13 - Chocolate comes from cocoa which is a tree... that makes it a plant which means... chocolate is salad!

Tip of the Month  -  Making silkspan sails

Making good looking sails is difficult to do, because scaled down sailcloth is so very thin. There are many methods modelers have tried, and using silkspan is one of the more successful materials.  It is the same thin paper that "stick and tissue" airplane modelers use. below is an example.

Silkspan has a grain, in that it rips more easily in one direction than the other. We will be using three layers, and it is very important that the middle layer grain is 90 degrees off from the outer layers. An easy way to get this right is to run a pencil line down one edge of the silkspan. The outline, panel, reef, and support panel demarcation lines should be drawn in pencil on the middle layer. See below.

Next, place the first layer on some wax paper and coat it with a 50-50 mix of Elmer's and water, with a little mildewcide added (you can get that at a paint store). make sure you pull out and wrinkles at this stage. Then put the middle layer with your sail drawing over it and coat that. This next step is critical:  put another sheet of wax paper on top, and work out any bubbles, using the edge of your palm or a small rolling pin. You must get all the air out to have a smooth sail. Repeat with the top layer. My example below has a couple of wrinkles.

To give the sail some shape, suspend it on a rack. Wire coat hangers work great for this. As the silkspan dries, it will shrink a little and smooth out.

Once dry, you can trim the sail to shape. Wrinkles can be gently ironed out. Adding thin wire to the edges, like a boltrope, will allow you to shape the sail even better. Reef ropes can just be glued on.

Making furled sails is the same, but you should only make the sail with about half the area.  Once drawn up, it doesn't look so bulky and out of scale.
This example is for a sail that is furled to the mast and gaff, which is called "brailed."

If you are furling a sail to a yard, you would reduce the bottom of the sail.  To furl a sail onto a boom, you would reduce the top.

So there you have a nice simple way to make great looking sails.

I have to thank my good friend, Jim Wiser for showing me this technique many years ago. Jim passed on 3 years ago and my CT club has made an annual award in his name, for artistry and craftsmanship in model shipbuilding. He was a great modeler.

Thanks for your support


My final message in this newsletter will always be the same because it is what BlueJacket has done for 110 years, and we're not about to stop.


We appreciate our customers, we exist for our customers, and we listen to our customers. What we do is fun, just as I will try to make this newsletter. If you have any suggestions or comments, still, as always, please just give us a shout!


There's nothing I'd rather do than work on, or talk about model boats. Have fun!  




Nic Damuck

BlueJacket Shipcrafters, Inc.